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Alps in October

jimmythecuckoojimmythecuckoo Posts: 4,598
edited September 2010 in Tour & expedition
Could anyone on the forum let me know if mid-October is too late for a raid on Alp D'Huez or other alpine peaks?

I am considering a trip and could take it in... if it isn't freezing.

Posts

  • davieseedaviesee Posts: 6,386
    You might need knobbly tyres :shock:
    None of the above should be taken seriously, and certainly not personally.
  • avoidingmyphdavoidingmyphd Posts: 1,154
    you'll basically be fine.
    the days will definitely be shorter and the weather a little colder than the summer months, potentially really cold on high descents, and it might be a bit wetter too. so plan accordingly: shorter rides, warmer gear.
    i guess you're silently worrying about snow. not that likely.
    If you hit a spell of good weather, it will be amazing not having to battle the heat on climbs. And if you hit a spell of cold weather, be a bit creative and use lower climbs.
  • davieseedaviesee Posts: 6,386
    you'll basically be fine.
    the days will definitely be shorter and the weather a little colder than the summer months, potentially really cold on high descents, and it might be a bit wetter too. so plan accordingly: shorter rides, warmer gear.
    i guess you're silently worrying about snow. not that likely.
    If you hit a spell of good weather, it will be amazing not having to battle the heat on climbs. And if you hit a spell of cold weather, be a bit creative and use lower climbs.

    Don't know why he shouldn't worry about snow :?

    Two of my club mates got caught in snow doing the Raid Alpine last week.
    Yes, 12 inches of snow fell overnight in mid August. They had to follow the snow chain bound snow plough! :shock:
    None of the above should be taken seriously, and certainly not personally.
  • avoidingmyphdavoidingmyphd Posts: 1,154
    he needn't be too worried for the reason I gave in my post: because it isn't particularly likely to snow in a way that should bother him.
    Sure it sometimes snows quite low even in the summer (where were your mates caught out?) and a little bit more so in October, but not often or predictably enough to warn someone off booking a holiday just in case! Most of the ski resorts will report their "first snowfall" in November, and sometimes into December.

    jimmythecuckoo - browse the archives on cycling-challenge.com for october 2007-8-9 and see what you think. Start here: http://www.cycling-challenge.com/col-do ... and-above/
  • ralexralex Posts: 85
    We couldn't go over La Bonnette in late september a few years ago due to snow.
  • dilemnadilemna Posts: 2,187
    he needn't be too worried for the reason I gave in my post: because it isn't particularly likely to snow in a way that should bother him.
    Sure it sometimes snows quite low even in the summer (where were your mates caught out?) and a little bit more so in October, but not often or predictably enough to warn someone off booking a holiday just in case! Most of the ski resorts will report their "first snowfall" in November, and sometimes into December.

    jimmythecuckoo - browse the archives on cycling-challenge.com for october 2007-8-9 and see what you think. Start here: http://www.cycling-challenge.com/col-do ... and-above/

    I don't know where you are getting your info from but quite a few of the high Cols in the Alps and even lower ones can have serious snow in October which would pretty much ruin any cycling holiday with the sole purpose of riding to and over the summits on road bikes. You might be very lucky and snow is late or OTOH you might be bitterly disappointed or worse still caught out on a top a mountain in a blizzard that suddenly comes from nowhere. If you do go have a car following in support if the Col hasn't already been closed.

    When in October was the OP thinking of going? If it's middle to end I would suggest forget it.

    I have been in the Dordogne mid late October which has seen fairly heavy snow falls.
    Life is like a roll of toilet paper; long and useful, but always ends at the wrong moment. Anon.
    Think how stupid the average person is.......
    half of them are even more stupid than you first thought.
  • avoidingmyphdavoidingmyphd Posts: 1,154
    dilemna wrote:
    I don't know where you are getting your info from
    Read my post then. There's a starting point to the mystery with a link, which goes to a first hand account, with photos, about riding up Alpe d'Huez, the very climb the OP asked about, one mid-October . Read the comments for further first hand info about the same climb, including comments about which time of year is best to ride up (October, fancy that!). And follow the links on the same site to October archives for date-specific photographic evidence from several years of cycling, much of it in the Alps (some in the Jura, admittedly, but the text almost always specifies). The guy who maintains that site provides very detailed records, and his posts will give you a great snapshot of weather, road conditions, and cycling possibilities in October. It sure beats everyone else's anecdotes, especially ones from a region hundred of miles away (Dordogne) or a road hundreds of metres higher than ADH (Bonette). And I wouldn't post if I didn't also have some experience of my own (i.e. not "my mate") of the Alps (i.e. not other parts of France).

    Yes, the cols can have serious snow in October. But, like you said, so can the Dordogne, and if you were advising someone not to go cycling there in October because of the risk of snow, you'd be laughed at. And some of the higher ones will obviously and definitely close towards November and have serious snow shortly afterwards. But the OP asked specifically about Alpe D'Huez in mid October and I gave him the only sensible answer on the thread: it's unlikely to snow to the the extent that it spoils his holiday, but he'll need to be sensible with his clothing and timing and make route choices when he gets there based on the weather forecast.
  • ItalianoItaliano Posts: 75
    Cant talk for French Alps, but here in Italy I remember the Stelvio being closed for snow (already close to bottom) for snow in early October.

    Some other passes were fine, like Mortirolo, but it was damn cold.
  • dilemna wrote:
    When in October was the OP thinking of going? If it's middle to end I would suggest forget it.

    from the 18th for a week.
  • avoidingmyphdavoidingmyphd Posts: 1,154
    Well asked dilemna! Even with everything I said above in mind 18-25 October is a little on the late side. if you go for a week, then ADH itself, and similar climbs, will probably be fine, most of the time, but the higher local(ish) cols like glandon, croix de fer, galibier will likely be very cold and possibly not enjoyable even if doable.

    For a truly informed decision, have a look at this historical weather data. The graphs are unreadable; scroll down for the day by day data chart. These are 2008, but other years are available as well. Note that 2009 was freakily hot, so don't book a holiday expecting that to happen!

    St Jean de Maurienne, for an indication of what happens in the valley towns

    Chamrousse, altitude 1785, for an indication what happens up high.
  • GarrigouGarrigou Posts: 145
    Averages are always misleading, but for what it's worth the 'average' elevation of the snowline in the Alps in mid-October is between 2300-2500m. So, the earlier reply suggesting that AdH would more often than not be ok, but that Bonnette would be a much greater risk, is spot on.
    Between me & Eddy Merckx we've won pretty much everything worth winning on a bike.
  • edeverettedeverett Posts: 224
    @Garrigou, Where do get the information about the average snowline? (I'm planning a trip to the Apls around then)
  • GarrigouGarrigou Posts: 145
    Berne University Geography Department. I have some friends in strange places. :?
    Between me & Eddy Merckx we've won pretty much everything worth winning on a bike.
  • edeverettedeverett Posts: 224
    :-) Nice. I was hoping for something to browse at my leisure. Useful information none the less.
  • was in the alps cycling a couple of weeks ago, mid august, not too high up (brenner pass) and i still had a bit of snow. i wouldnt say that there difinately will be alot of snow but best to be prepared for it anyway. the alps are great though, a censored to get up but coming down to innsbruck i hit 67mph. if you get to do it u'll love it
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    Yes it's funny you should say that, I was reading in the local paper this morning that it snowed down to 1300metres at Cortina on Monday.

    But equally there've been years when there was no snow in Val dIsere in December.

    All you can do is always make sure you have a plan B and find out where you can get accurate information on the state of the roads.

    If it helps, the French word for the snow/rain line os 'isotherme' so a search on isotherme might come up with useful historical data.
  • andymiller wrote:
    If it helps, the French word for the snow/rain line os 'isotherme' so a search on isotherme might come up with useful historical data.
    Well, that's really just the French word for isotherm isn't it!
    The term you are looking for is "limite pluie/neige". If the weather calls for it, a (local i.e. meteo france of similar, not the BBC see e.g. http://france.meteofrance.com/france/mo ... lle/381911 where it's currently listed as "-" because it's clear at the moment) alpine weather forecast will include it. And if that is the case, most cycling will be miserable anyway because below the snow it'll be cold and rainy! Note that it isn't the same as the Isotherme 0 degrees (given directly above it on my link) - it's a few hundred metres lower normally.
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